Pantheism, Paganism, and Life: Could Use Some Advice

I was raised Christian and still have respect for those beliefs and those people who hold them. However for years now, those beliefs just have not sit well with me. I have come to the realization that I cannot and will never be able to force myself to believe something. On the surface I have lied and call myself a Christian to avoid arguments and because I fear the people in my life will lose respect for me… but it is wrong.

I fear that no one will take me seriously. Paganism is, unfortunately, viewed as being a “joke” around here. I fear that I will be forced time and time again to defend my beliefs, and that if I don’t offer an explanation of my beliefs, I will be seen as being “silly” or “childish” (even being in my mid-20’s).

I envy those who live in an environment where diversity of beliefs is accepted. Where I’m from, if you aren’t Christian you have a stigma placed on you. Even in the work place, even at school. It is neither fair nor right. But I fear this, and it drives me to lie, which in turn makes me feel like a terrible person… I’m so tired of lying to the people in my life.

My true beliefs are very similar to pantheism- that Nature and god are synonymous. I do not know if I would consider myself a pagan at this time, but pagan rituals have always struck my interest and in the future may be a good way to express and celebrate my spirituality. I am now at a new stage in my life and am eager to learn more.

I guess I’m just seeking words of encouragement, advice, similar stories, reading/website recommendations, or any information you think would be of use to me. Anything will be appreciated!